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Growing under leylandii

Hello,  apologies if this has been asked before.  We have a narrow south facing border which is overhung by tall leylandii in a neighbour's garden (to be fair the the neighbours they are very good about keeping them trimmed but we can't cut them back too far without killing the growth and being left with bare sticks to look at).  The bed is in bright sun during the morning but deep shade from another tree in the afternoon.  The leylandii make the soil really dry and to my surprise, given the number of needles and twigs they drop, it tests as alkaline.  Salvias, larkspur and toadflax manage okay but a lot of other things really struggle.  Can anyone please suggest plants that would be happy in these conditions?  I've ordered some grasses and am thinking of dahlias and calendulas but I don't want to waste plants that will just shrivel up or sulk. Thank you! 


  • bcpathomebcpathome Buckinghamshire Posts: 286
    I have the same problem here but without the thoughtful neighbour.I just planted lots of ‘ wild’ flowers along there and it looks pretty enough. Wild flowers are happy in most soils ,poppys and such ,you could give that a go .
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,085
    Odd that it's testing as alkaline  :)
    I wouldn't use Dahlias - they need a lot of food and water, so that would be a very big chore to keep them thriving.  :)
    I think some wildflower seed is probably a good idea to begin with. Ox eye daisies for example, will cope with anything - and can really take over, but an easy plant from seed. Corncockle- Agrostemma,  might be fine too. The little Welsh and Californian poppies would be ideal. Some of the species/botanical tulips might also be fine. 
    I expect others will have more ideas though.
    It's not a type of site I have much experience of here, as we tend to have moist soil in sun or shade,  but if you take a look here :    it'll give you further ideas for the dry shady bit  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • PlantmindedPlantminded WirralPosts: 994
    edited 11 May
    Thyme and Euphorbia will tolerate dry soil, once watered to get established.  I have a low thyme hedge in front of some large shrubs on shallow sandy soil which is shaded in the afternoon and it's now flowering happily!  I also have a Euphorbia characias wulfenii which only gets 2 hours of sun in the morning, near some large shrubs, and it's fine.
  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 972
    edited 11 May
    I have the same but with no sun at all, bone dry deep shade. As suggested some wildflowers do well, campion and sweet rocket seed themselves happily there, other than that Ive managed to grow aconitums ok, vinca minor, pulmonaria and I mainly fill it with dry tolerating ferns -dryopteris mainly. I think the key thing is to constantly water anything you plant in the first year or two
  • WatsoniaWatsonia Posts: 87
    I have Hypericum calycinum (Rose of Sharon) under my conifer hedge in the back garden, it’s evergreen and has added a nice pop of yellow colour in summer. And Symphytum hidcote blue, which should need more water but is perfectly happy. The bees love it. I think the conditions keep it manageable as it can spread.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze South NottsPosts: 1,105
    @zoebarkham I am suprised at the alkaline soil test too. I would have thought it would be more acidic due to the laylandii.  One idea would be Claytonia but sometimes it is not possible to plant in such a difficult spot.
  • zoebarkhamzoebarkham Posts: 2
    Thank you everyone, you've been so helpful and generous with your time and knowledge!  I'd forgotten how greedy dahlias are so they'll be going elsewhere, and I'll give wildflowers a try.  I'll also carry on mulching and composting as the soil's like dust - the salvias and campions seem happy so maybe a few more of those too.  Thank you again! 
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